Hope you like pizza. Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza, a player in the booming, build-your-own pizza category, has signed a development agreement to launch in Dallas. The franchising group is Saddles Blazin, an affiliate of Paradigm Investment Group led by Don Wollan, Brian Kelley and Greg Hazard. They already own 105 Hardee’s, TGI Fridays and Jersey Mike’s Subs franchises.
Being such a corporate entity, they remain tight-lipped on the specifics of their development in Dallas. "As of now, we are not able to provide definite opening dates or locations for the restaurants," says spokeswoman Samantha Tyson.
Blaze is part of the very hot trend of faster-than-fast-food pizza with gourmet ambitions. Players include Pie Five; Uncle Maddio's; Live Basil Pizza; The Pizza Studio; Tulsa-based Top That! Pizza; and the Los Angeles-based pacesetter, 800 Degrees Pizza. There's even a locally grown entry called Pizza Snob that opened in January 2014 near TCU in Fort Worth.
Blaze enters the market on the heels of Project Pie, which is moving into Dallas this summer. These pizzerias use an assembly-line format inspired by Chipotle, with bins of toppings that customers can choose from to make their own custom pizza. It goes into a blazing hot open-flame oven and bakes for less than 180 seconds.
Blaze's standard pizza is 11 inches and costs $8. They have a "pizza whisperer" – executive chef Brad Kent, who devised the dough, which requires a 24-hour fermentation.
The menu also features salads, fresh lemonade, craft beer and wine, and house-made s’more pies. Blaze also offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.
The chain was founded in 2011 by Elise and Rick Wetzel, co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels, and boasts some celebrity investors, including LeBron James, Maria Shriver, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and movie producer John Davis. Blaze Pizza currently operates restaurants in Southern California, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Milwaukee.